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10 Eye-Opening Books Steve Jobs Would Have Recommended

10 Eye-Opening Books Steve Jobs Would Have Recommended
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It’s been said again and again that Steve Jobs was a visionary, but it wasn’t because he focused only on growing Apple and designing the iPhone. How did he think the way he did? Surely he learned from someone.

He read books that focused on more than just technology and business. As you’ll see below, in addition to those subjects, his reading list included topics like meditation and a vegetarian diet. Most importantly, the books that Steve Jobs read shared one main characteristic: they were about an individual overcoming obstacles to transform the world. This is exactly what he did with Apple.

Here are 10 eye-opening books that influenced Steve Jobs.

1. 1984, George Orwell

1984

    Imagine what life would be like if you had no control over anything in your world. This is a story about one man’s fight against an oppressive, all-controlling state. It makes the reader contemplate aspects of society that are controlling them, and question the control they have over their own thoughts and actions.

    It’s inarguable that Steve Jobs was influenced by this book. The first advertisement which introduced the Apple Macintosh depicted the world as oppressed and dominated by IBM, and Apple was the only alternative able to disrupt the conformist status quo.

    2. The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen

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    innovators dilemma

      In The Innovator’s Dilemma, Christensen discusses the that idea that successful companies may fail to adopt new technology or business models that would help their customers’ future needs as a result of focusing too much on their customers’ current needs. As we work to achieve our goals or grow our businesses we have to focus on our short-term goals, but at the same time avoid getting stuck with a short-term outlook. We have to consider what our end goal is and make sure our current goals fit with that vision.

      Apple often looked past it’s current technology and continued to change its own technology. Take the iPhone for example, which has all the features of an iPod and more- making iPods obsolete.

      3. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki

      zen mind beginners mind

        Meditation has been proven to improve mental health and reduce stress. In today’s fast-paced, hectic world, it’s important to have moments to yourself. If you’re looking to get a start in meditation, this is the go-to book. It’s a compilation of talks given by Suzuki, providing a concise introduction to Zen meditation. It also discusses the topics of selflessness and mindfulness.

        Steve Jobs often used the methods found in this book to center himself during difficult moments in his career. He was such an avid practitioner that he considered going to Japan to continue his practice, but was advised against it.

        4. Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda

        autobiography of a yogi

          This book gives us a look into the life of Paramahansa Yogananda. He shares his encounters with spiritual figures of the East and West and his journey from childhood to becoming a monk. Through sharing his experiences, he attempts to explain the spiritual laws of everyday occurrences.

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          If you’re looking to understand life in a little more depth, this book will help you develop an understanding of people from different faiths and creeds, emphasizing the idea of peace through self-realization.

          Jobs read and reread this book while he stayed at a guesthouse in the foothills of the Himalayas in India. He continued to reread it every year afterwards.

          5. Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe

          diet for a small planet

            This was the first book that introduced a significantly different and healthier way of eating to America: being a vegetarian. This book contains simple rules in an easy-to-follow format, and recipes for anyone looking to start on a high-protein vegetarian diet. Healthy eating and dieting is a difficult goal for many of us, but with specific recipes and explanations, Lappe decreases the barriers to healthy eating.

            After reading this book, Jobs swore off meat, became a vegetarian, and began to experiment with other extreme diets.

            6. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

            moby dick

              Moby Dick tells the story of a ship captain and his efforts to get revenge on a white whale that destroyed his ship and severed his leg. The captain demonstrates lessons in persistence that we can learn from- guiding us to hopefully conquer our own white whales. Maybe you’re stuck on a problem, or finding it difficult to achieve a goal. This is a sign you have your own white whale to conquer.

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              Jobs and Apple had a white whale in the 1980s: entering a market that was already dominated by another company, IBM. Through many struggles, Jobs was able to help Apple to achieve its own share of the market. It’s safe to say that Apple has conquered many white whales since then.

              7. King Lear by William Shakespeare

              king lear

                In this tragedy, Shakespeare demonstrates how life can suddenly turn for the worse, telling the story of a king who’s betrayed by his daughters and robbed of his kingdom as he descends into madness. We can learn from the mistakes of King Lear, who betrayed those who loved him the most, was fooled by appearances, and ended up leading his country to civil war.

                Jobs told Walter Isaacson, the author of his biography, that he “loved King Lear”, which isn’t surprising.

                “King Lear offers a vivid depiction of what can go wrong if you lose your grip on your empire, a story surely fascinating to any aspiring CEO,” says Daniel Smith, author of How to Think Like Steve Jobs.

                8. Inside the Tornado, by Geoffrey A. Moore

                inside the tornado

                  New companies often face the problem of finding early adopters for new products, then determining how to reach the mainstream market. Moore provides a method of navigating inside this tornado, helping you to get your company through the turmoil that is taking a product to mass market successfully. This book is recommended for anyone looking to grow a company.

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                  The release of new products means accepting that it may take a while for the general public to adapt to things that are new. Apple has clearly developed strategies to assist them to survive their own tornadoes and get products past early adopters to the mainstream market.

                  9. Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

                  atlas shrugged

                    What happens when billionaire CEOs drop their companies in the name of good, but end up harming the economy? Ayn Rand, hailed as one of the most profound philosophers of the 20th century, tells the story of a dystopian United States where successful CEOs abandon their fortunes and cause important industries to collapse. She provides a deep analysis of ideas like morality, egoism, and the potential destruction of altruism.

                    As the CEO of a large and highly influential company, Jobs likely contemplated his motivations and the effects of his decisions on the world.

                    10. The Tao of Programming, by Geoffrey James

                    the tao of programming

                      This book is a spoof of classic Taoist texts and explains various hacker ideals of work and programming. Through a series of short anecdotes, Geofrrey James outlines lessons about software management and design. A must-read for new project managers or project leads, Steve Jobs personally told Geoffrey James that he enjoyed this book.

                      So why not choose one of these books to kick off your summer reading- you might just change your perspective on life and business at the same time.

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                      Featured photo credit: Albumarium via albumarium.com

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                      Last Updated on July 20, 2021

                      How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

                      How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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                      You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

                      Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

                      Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

                      Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

                      1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

                      According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

                      “Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

                      Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

                      Warming up

                      If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

                      If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

                      Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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                      1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
                      2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
                      3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

                      Stay hydrated

                      Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

                      To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

                      Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

                      Meditate

                      Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

                      Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

                      Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

                      Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

                      2. Focus on your goal

                      One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

                      Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

                      Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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                      Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

                      If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

                      3. Convert negativity to positivity

                      There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

                      ‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

                      It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

                      Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

                      Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

                      Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

                      4. Understand your content

                      Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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                      However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

                      “No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

                      Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

                      Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

                      One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

                      5. Practice makes perfect

                      Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

                      In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

                      Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

                      6. Be authentic

                      There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

                      Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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                      Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

                      To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

                      With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

                      Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

                      7. Post speech evaluation

                      Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

                      Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

                      We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

                      You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

                      Improve your next speech

                      As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

                      Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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                      • How did I do?
                      • Are there any areas for improvement?
                      • Did I sound or look stressed?
                      • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
                      • Was I saying “um” too often?
                      • How was the flow of the speech?

                      Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

                      If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

                      Reference

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